University of Maine at Farmington sophomore forward McKenna Brodeur overcame a leg injury and is ready to get started for a new season with the women’s basketball team. (Tony Blasi/Sun Journal)

UMaine-Farmington’s McKenna Brodeur dribbles the ball toward an eventual score against Thomas in the first half of the NAC championship game Sunday. Brodeur also plays for the UMF women’s basketball team and is expected to be a key player in the 2018-19 season. (David Leaming/Morning Sentinel)

FARMINGTON — Playing soccer at a small college in Maine was one of McKenna Brodeur’s goals after graduating from high school.

Playing college basketball was not on her agenda when she went searching for a school that could fulfill her collegiate aspirations.

But when Brodeur, now a sophomore, had a sit-down with UMF women’s soccer coach Molly Wilkie, women’s basketball coach Jamie Beaudoin noticed Brodeur in the hallway and asked if she wanted to play hoop for the Beavers.

Brodeur, who is a psych major with a minor in biology, found Beaudoin’s offer enticing.

“When I was looking at schools, I wanted to play somewhere small just because I wanted to focus on my education,” Brodeur, an Oakland native, explained. “Here, I can play both sports. I was looking to play soccer somewhere. I showed up here to talk to coach Molly, and Beaudoin was out in the hallway, and he was like, ‘You’re tall. Do you want to play basketball? Do you play basketball?’

“‘I’m like, ‘Yeah, I play kind of casually.’ He was like, ‘If you want to play here, you can.’ I like that he didn’t force me into it. He said, ‘I will be at a game.’ I said, ‘Whatever.’ And I am like, if I can play both, why not? I didn’t really talk to any other basketball coaches when I was looking at other schools to play soccer.”

Brodeur is a post player for the Beavers, but she said she is comfortable in any position.

Last season, a hamstring injury sidelined her for the season. She played the entire soccer season and is just starting to feel better thanks to strength exercises.

“I have been told that I don’t play young,” the 5-foot-10 Brodeur said. “Some kids come in as freshmen, sophomores like they are, ‘Oh, don’t want to screw anything up.’ They don’t have confidence, and I have never been like that. I think that is really helpful for me. I didn’t play post until high school and I didn’t really know what I was doing, but now I am really comfortable.”

Brodeur has confidence in the Beavers this season because they have their act together.

“I have seen improvement from last year,” Brodeur said. “Last year was kind of getting things together. We have a good couple of freshmen who will make an immediate impact but we still have upperclassmen who will keep it all together.

“If we can keep everybody grounded — I think last year we got a little frantic. We lost to a couple of really good teams — let’s just say that. We can compete with those teams. We don’t have to be scared. I think we were scared. I think we can expect to win.”

Counting on her

There is no question Brodeur will play a key role in the Beavers’ success this season.

“Her athletic ability, combined with her basketball IQ, gives her an opportunity to be successful on the court, but also her leadership qualities, because she has the ability and she understands the game, she is able to communicate those things to others, and that gives her an edge,” Beaudoin said. “A year ago, she battled an injury. When she returns, she will really help us out a lot. It will take her a little bit to get used to it, but I think those other things will come into play. The passing and the rebounding might not be there from the start, but it will eventually be there.”

Beaudoin immediately put Brodeur to work as a freshman, and she had an impact on the Beavers’ offense before she injured her leg in the middle of the season.

“A lot of things that we did were designed for her to have the ball because she is a very good passer and she is always a threat to score and a lot of teams give her attention,” Beaudoin said. “But when she was out, it forced us to make adjustments, and put other players in those situations, which I think strengthens us this year.

“I really think senior Haley Felkel will really have a great senior year. We had the gap in the middle of the year when we didn’t have McKenna, but at the end of the year, we were very competitive and a lot of that had to do with having McKenna back on the court.”

Beaudoin said Brodeur is not a true post player, but he added that “this year she will play on the perimeter a lot for us.”

The UMF women’s hoop coach hopes Brodeur’s success as a soccer player will rub off on the basketball team. The sophomore missed Friday’s season opener because she and the UMF women’s soccer team traveled to the NCAA Division III soccer playofs in Middlebury, Vermont over the weekend.

“Hopefully, the end of the soccer season, finding that success and her own confidence as a soccer player will spread to our team and help us with our confidence when we get started with a new schedule,” Beaudoin said.

FARMINGTON — This season brings depth, flexibility and the addition of new teams — which could all add up to a prosperous year for the University of Maine at Farmington women’s basketball team.

The Beavers also have other things going for them. McKenna Brodeur has recovered from a leg injury and UMF is bigger and a seasoned crew, who took their lumps the past year.

This also means UMF women’s basketball coach Jamie Beaudoin has flexibility with lineups for each contest.

“Last year, when McKenna was out, we played a lot of four guards and it kind of forced one of our guards to do some post play as well as play a lot more zone than we used to,” Beaudoin said. “This year there is more potential for lineups because we are a little bigger. So that means shifting players, that means McKenna plays a lot more on the perimeter.”

All those shifts in a lineup might give other guards more freedom to go about their business on the court.

“Our weakness in terms of guard play is handling pressure,” Beaudoin explained “I just kind of think that’s the way the game is right now.

“If you have a really good point guard, and someone that you are super confident with, they can get you into offense, but with the shot clock and all those things that come into play now, with the game in a 10-second count, us getting the ball into offense could be a challenge.”

The Beavers’ senior contingent includes center Paige Carter and guards Haley Felkel and Morgan Crocker.

“They all bring different elements to our game,” Beaudoin said. “I think they are really going to help lead us.

“Morgan is a driver. She has great heart when she goes to shoot. She has a great perimeter shot when she decides to shoot it. She will get a lot of attention from teams trying their best to defend her.

“Haley is a great shooter. She is a great passer. She can create her owns shots off the dribble, which is a challenging thing, but she is able to do it. Paige Carter is just a hard worker who has developed her game. She is a great defensive player with long arms.”

There are four freshmen who give the Beavers added depth.

“Halee Ramdsdell is a transfer. She is from Wells,” Beaudoin said. “She is a post player. She is another player like Paige with long arms and I am very impressed with her. She has been away from the game for a year and I think it is going take some time. I think she will add some things for us.

“Makayla Wilson is a guard from Messalonskee and played on the state championship team with McKenna as a junior. She has the ability to play on the ball, off the ball.

“Molly Folsom is a guard/forward. Her strength is shooting the ball 15, 18 feet. Hannah Anderson is a guard from Monmouth. (She played in) two straight championships has some confidence, good defender.”

Beaudoin sees the addition of teams in the North Atlantic Conference as a new start.

“We are still playing in the NAC, but there are new teams, so the schedule will be a little bit different,” Beaudoin said. “Every game is a goal to get better and compete.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.